Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
May 2004, Issue #3



A Demonstration of the New Bridge Between Math, Science, and Education
On May 20, 2004 NSDL Director Kaye Howe and William Y. Arms, Principle Investigator, NSDL Core Integration at Cornell, were joined in Washington D.C. by Dr, Muniram Budhu, University of Arizona GROW Digital Library and Ms. Varnelle Moore, Kindergarten teacher in the School District of Philadelphia who works with the Math Forum at Drexel University, to brief legislative staff about the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). The luncheon was co-sponsored by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Senator Hillary Clinton's Office.

Kris Balderston from Senator Clinton's office began the presentation by calling for more investment in long-term education initiatives and stressed the importance of building infrastructure. He compared founding the NSDL with the impact of Nelson Rockefeller's establishing the SUNY system in New York State and Cornell's successful effort to reach out to statewide agrarian communities through Cornell Cooperative Extension.

New York State is a study in disparity. Wealth and investment in New York City stands in contrast to pockets of rural poverty in upstate. Balerston sees NSDL as another initiative that blurs the wealth divide. He concluded by introducing NSDL Director Kaye Howe.

"Education has always gone out from the great libraries. We are here to tell you about how this great library, NSDL, is already used in American classrooms and how important that is," Howe said.

William Arms explained that technical innovation around building a digital library keeps quality up and costs down. The challenge for the NSDL in this equation is to incorporate as many STEM learning resources as possible which are often underutilized and technically very different. He reported on three NSDL services that help:
-search and discovery
-archiving, persistence and preservation
-sharing experiences

Arms concluded by explaining that the"One Library, Many Portals" concept allows NSDL to develop with many entrance points serving diverse communities of learners. He introduced Muniram Budhu, Project Director for the Geotechnical Rock and Water Resources Library (GROW).

Budhu demonstrated GROW's Virtual Lab where students use intuitive drag and drop interaction to perform experiments on topics such as weighing water content in soil. The Virtual Lab was developed for undergraduates but is being used by middle school students as well. GROW also features simulations on public safety issues such as a comparison of automobile type and depth of rising water.

Budhu sees the potential for a new environment for learning. "We have turned the learning pyramid upside down. Once a student has access to the internet they can make use of the NSDL."

Varnelle Moore has discovered a new dimension to her teaching using the NSDL. Different styles of learning are addressed and she has found new virtual colleagues on line. Her kindergarten students learn on line by using:
-concrete manipulatives
-spatial experiences
-story content
-talking out ideas
-visual stimulus
-writing on paper

Kaye Howe concluded the demonstration by reminding the audience, "We have pledged public education to each other in this country." NSDL is extending the reach and impact of public education and is a critical piece of national educational infrastructure.
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Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain